Jason Oakley

Jason OakleyShare

Sr. Director of Product Marketing, Klue
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Jason Oakley
Jason Oakley
Sr. Director of Product Marketing, KlueJanuary 5

It's challenging because there are so many overlaps, but I think it boils down to clear, consistent communication. And maybe breaking it down into how you work (or don't work) together on a project-by-project level. 

For example, on a product release, your committee will likely include people from each of these teams. When you set out the plan for that launch it's important to clearly define who own what. After enough releases, you all should be in lock step for how you work together on those particular types of projects. 

Over time, apply this approach to other projects types and soon you'll start to carve out everyone's niche. 

In one case at my last company, we also worked with the product team to create a document outlining all of the responsibilities we "owned" or "supported". The idea being that each responsibility needed an owner, but it doesn't mean another team could be involved in a supporting role. If anything, it helped facilitate the conversation around who owned what. 

I'd also check out my previous answer about creating your PMM Charter. 

Jason Oakley
Jason Oakley
Sr. Director of Product Marketing, KlueJanuary 4

A lot of this depends on the size, stage, and goals of the company, but here's how I suggest approaching prioritization. 

Create your PMM Charter

With the input of your boss and other leaders in the company, you'll first want to define what PMM looks like at your org. This helps set the guardrails for what product marketing is repsonsible for at your org and what your main objectives are. This will take into consideration what the top priorities are for company leadership.

Set out on a priority seeking mission

In your first month or so, you have the opportunity to have a ton of 1:1 conversations as a new employee. During these conversations, I ask everyone if they have any priorities or asks for product marketing. I use all of this to create a master list of all the internal priorities/projects that people would "like" my team to focus on.

I also like to do a content audit, focusing on all of the collateral that's leveraged throughout the sales cycle. I'll map the existing assets to the sales process and try to uncover gaps, or things that need updating.

After all of the steps above, you'll likely have a sizeable list of competing projects that you need to prioritize. Some factors to include in how you weight each project:

  • What impact can this have on revenue and how soon?
  • Is it tied to an existing deadline, like an upcoming product launch?
  • Who is requesting it? Is the CEO asking for this, or is it a one-off request from a sales rep?
  • Does it fall within your charter, or is it outside the scope of product marketing at your org?
  • Where does it fit into your strategic objectives for that year, quarter, etc.

I would map this all out in a spreadsheet or project board and circulate it between a few key stakeholders in the company, ie. your boss, Head of Product, Head of Sales, Head of CS, the CEO, etc. You could even send them the raw list and ask them to rank it in terms of priority.

Using this feedback I'd create your final, prioritized project list. They key is to then make it available to everyone in your company so everyone can see where things fall and why.

Jason Oakley
Jason Oakley
Sr. Director of Product Marketing, KlueJanuary 2

I'm still trying to master this one, but here's what I'm doing at Klue (I'm in my first month at the company). 

Create your PMM Charter

With the input of your boss and other leaders in the company, you'll first want to define what PMM looks like at your org. This helps set the guardrails for what product marketing is repsonsible for at your org and what your main objectives are. This will take into consideration what the top priorities are for company leadership.  

Set out on a priority finding mission

In your first month or so, you have the opportunity to have a ton of 1:1 conversations as a new employee. During these conversations, I ask everyone if they have any priorities or asks for product marketing. I use all of this to create a master list of all the internal priorities/projects that people would "like" my team to focus on. 

I also like to do a content audit, focusing on all of the collateral that's leveraged throughout the sales cycle. I'll map the existing assets to the sales process and try to uncover gaps, or things that need updating. 

After all of the steps above, you'll likely have a sizeable list of competing projects that you need to prioritize. Some factors to include in how you weight each project:

  • What impact can this have on revenue and how soon?
  • Is it tied to an existing deadline, like an upcoming product launch?
  • Who is requesting it? Is the CEO asking for this, or is it a one-off request from a sales rep? 
  • Does it fall within your charter, or is it outside the scope of product marketing at your org?
  • Where does it fit into your strategic objectives for that year, quarter, etc. 

I would map this all out in a spreadsheet or project board and circulate it between a few key stakeholders in the company, ie. your boss, Head of Product, Head of Sales, Head of CS, the CEO, etc. You could even send them the raw list and ask them to rank it in terms of priority. 

Using this feedback I'd create your final, prioritized project list. They key is to then make it available to everyone in your company so everyone can see where things fall and why. 

Jason Oakley
Jason Oakley
Sr. Director of Product Marketing, KlueJanuary 2

I actually did a presentation on this about a month ago, which you can watch here.

I don't split it out into 30-60-90 day increments, but within that period, these are the things I'd suggest doing:

  1. Get to know your product - get demo certified, the same as your AEs
  2. Start building key relationships internally - have lots of 1:1s
  3. Create battlecards for your top 2-3 competitors
  4. Put your positioning on paper
  5. Define a product launch process
  6. Set up your internal communication channels
  7. Perform a content audit and find the gaps that need filling
  8. Gather the tools, templates, frameworks that will accelerate your success

Another late edition to this (added after my presentation) is to create your own PMM Charter. This is a foundational document that lays out the goals and objectives for your product daprtment. It helps you create guardrails for your team around the things that are in your wheelhouse, which will come in handy as people start firing projects at you.

Jason Oakley
Jason Oakley
Sr. Director of Product Marketing, KlueJanuary 2

Know the product and their role (product management) well. In my experience, I've been able to build credibility with PMs by being able to speak their language, communicate in tools like Jira, Confluence, Miro, Figma, that they use every day to do their job. 

While product knowledge is important, market and competitive knowledge is a huge asset for PMs and something they often don't have. If you can bring that to the table, you'll be seen as a valued partner. 

I've also experienced a tension between PM and PMM when it comes to overlapping jobs and who owns what. PMs may feel like a new product marketer is taking some of their responsibilities away from them. This naturally leads to a poor working relationship. In my experience it's been helpful to sit down with the PM team or my PM counterpart to carve out together, who is responsible for what. As a backstop, when I know I'm in this situation, I try to tread very lightly and offer to support them vs taking a job away from them. 

Jason Oakley
Jason Oakley
Sr. Director of Product Marketing, KlueJanuary 2

I was one of the first marketing hires at Chili Piper. I personally think there's a strong arguement to hire product marketing first. Positioning, messaging, segmentation, sales enablement, these are all critical things that should be focused on early. If not, you'll waste a lot of time and money churning out content and ads that miss the mark.

Jason Oakley
Jason Oakley
Sr. Director of Product Marketing, KlueJanuary 2

I think it's a hugely valuable and strategic relationship. 

Sales Enablement is invested in the growth and performance of the sales team. They provide the systems, processes, and tools that reps need to ramp quickly, and continue hitting their quota. They ususally have credibility amongst the sales team and reps listen to what they say/ask. 

For Product Marketers, this is a huge strategic partner. Our messaging, content, tools, etc. provide valuable content Sales Enablement can use in their training. We can leverage their existing processes and ear of the sales team to effectively distribute our content. 

Sales Enablement is also tapped into the needs and priorities of the sales team. This makes them a great source of information when it comes to existing sales priorities, gaps that we can help fill, areas where PMM can provide a ton of value. 

Jason Oakley
Jason Oakley
Sr. Director of Product Marketing, KlueJanuary 2

I'll start by saying that I love the initiative you're taking to break into product marketing. It sounds like you are doing a lot of the right things. A lot more than most who are in your shoes. 

I think my first question would be why are you preferring to look externally for your first PMM role? If joining your PMM team is a possibility, I would definitely encourage you to consider it. It sounds like you're already helping out on some projects, and you clearly understand your product, customer, market, etc. Even if you were to join their team for 6 months to gain some experience and the title of PMM. 

I don't necessarily agree that you wouldn't get an interview if you applied to a PMM job in the tech space. It's hard to hire great junior PMMs so a lot of leaders are broadening their search to people with different backgrounds. I think your experience in product, paired with your marketing and sales experience makes you a great candidate. That said, there will always be some recruiters who will only look at people with "Product Marketing" job titles, which is why I would suggest getting that at Meltwater if you have the opportunity. 

One other thing I'd suggest is joinging a product marketing community like PMA and taking one of their courses. A lot of great companies are looking to scoop up new grads from these programs and the PMA network is a great place to find orgs looking for junior PMMs. 

Last piece of advice is to just start connecting with PMM leaders on LinkedIn. Chances are, 50% or more of them are looking to hire in 2022 and would love to chat. Me included!

Jason Oakley
Jason Oakley
Sr. Director of Product Marketing, KlueJanuary 1

They know very little about our market, product, and competitors, and haven't really made an effort to learn. 

One way to stand out in the interview process is to show that you have a solid understanding of what the company does. If you can confidently speak about their competitors, talk about their product, show you understand their market, you will impress them. They'll have confidence in your ability to hit the ground running, and you'll show you took the initiative to learn about their space. 

When I can tell that a candidate knows little about what we do, I:

  1. Worry about how long it'll take for them to start executing 
  2. Feel like they don't care enough or have the common sense to prepare for the interview
Jason Oakley
Jason Oakley
Sr. Director of Product Marketing, KlueJanuary 1

I was one of the first marketing hires at Chili Piper. I personally think there's an arguement to hire product marketing first or second. Positioning, messaging, segmentation, sales enablement, these are all critical things that should be focused on early. If not, you'll waste a lot of time and money churning out content and ads that miss the mark. 

Credentials & Highlights
Sr. Director of Product Marketing at Klue
Product Marketing AMA Contributor
Lives In Toronto
Knows About Growth Product Marketing, Consumer Product Marketing, Product Marketing Interviews, B...more